posttrib
DISRUPTIVE 
Weather Updates

Griffith pleased suit brought by township will be dropped

Ryfa

Ryfa

storyidforme: 68682274
tmspicid: 9040691
fileheaderid: 4114715

Updated: July 5, 2014 6:12PM



GRIFFITH — The town of Griffith won’t have to pay “one red cent” toward the lawsuit Calumet Township filed against the Department of Local Government Finance.

Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3, said neither side ever went before a judge, though Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin and her team “could’ve filed a couple of motions that could’ve extended the suit beyond her tenure.”

Because Elgin lost in the May Democratic primary, however, and both Democrat candidate Kim Robinson and Republican candidate Dortia Lee said they would drop the suit if elected, Ryfa thought Elgin “was put in a corner.”

“The bottom line is, the law enacted is perfectly legal and protects taxpayers in Griffith as well as the entire state,” Ryfa said Wednesday night. “The suit was frivolous and had no merit to begin with.”

It did have the potential to stall Griffith’s ability to secede which, based on numbers Ryfa researched through the State’s Gateway, is still a distinct possibility.

Ryfa said he discovered that when the township reduced its Poor Assistance levy to $4 million from $9 million, it tried to increase other levies to make up the $5 million difference.

“They tried to skirt the levy. They can’t operate on $4 million and may try to borrow to make ends meet,” Ryfa said. “Our citizens want out.”

Elgin couldn’t be reached for comment.

The suit was filed Jan. 9 on behalf of Township Trustee Mary Elgin and the Rev. Dwight Gardner against Gov. Mike Pence and Micah Vincent, chairman of the local finance department. The two contended in the suit that H.B. 1585 violates the U.S. Constitution, including the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment.

House Bill 1585, passed last year, allows Griffith to secede if Elgin can’t reduce the property tax rate that funds Calumet’s township assistance to less than 12 times the average of the state’s 1,008 townships.

Gardner at the time said the law proves there’s an out-and-out war on the poor, and that there was already a state law that would allow a municipality to secede from a township and attach itself to a different one, so the General Assembly coming up with the new formula when comparing the various township rates isn’t like comparing apples to apples and is further proof of hostility to the poor.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.